Posts Tagged ‘Geelong’

Gonzo

Geelong sweat merchants Gonzo offer up a sophomore LP, for Aussie garden of delights Anti-fade and its a twitchy whollop of an album that hits all the sweet spots like a sack of oranges to the face. The record jumps straight back into the battery-acid bash that surged through the synapses of their debut, only more refined and running a newer razor down the face with twisted blasts of guitar. Like US contempo’s in Uranium Club and Lithics or UK chord chewers Sauna Youth, they have a penchant for mixing mangled metal licks with a socially sour attitude that walks through the streets swinging the mic from the neck, begging to be beat, berated, or bested. The record is more than no-frills. It might actually accrue negative frills and owe a debt of audio drapings to the listener by the time the last bars click to a close.

Gonzo doesn’t seem fussed about it in the least, though. The band is comfortable at home scraping the sores for inspiration and they channel every inch of their chafed n’ chapped aesthetic into Do It Better. I for one have welcomed the caustic crush of the new wave of nihilistic rock action figures and Gonzo are a collector’s bunch (grab the four pack to trade with friends). The band spends the bulk of DIB‘s run licking the 9V for just a twinge of feeling. The record fizzes and flails just the right ways. It spends a good five minutes slamming its head into the cinder block basement to get enough blood to slide down the strings. Gonzo will chew wire for you. Gonzo will drive you to the airport, Gonzo will sit your kids and sell them back at market value. Gonzo will notarize your post-it notes. They’re living the mundane and spitting it back into grey lumps so you don’t have to. Its about time you locked in and appreciated it.




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Gonzo – “Put The Money”

Geelong punk foursome Gonzo are back with a sophomore LP on the crazily consistent Anti-Fade. The first cut, the poker parable “Put The Money” snaps and squirms with the vigor of their countrymen in Eddy Current Suppression Ring. The cut is bone-dry and brittle, rolling barbed taunts over a bedrock of rubble riffs that round up the post-punk verve of the best ’70s scene-stealers. This one’s not long on lyrics, but what the band lacks in linquistics they more than make up for in jerk-jilted rhythms and biting guitar tone. The new LP is out on March 29th.



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ORB

If the dearth of the mighty King Gizzard of late has left you with a hankering for Aussie scuzz and heavy fuzz then ORB’s got you covered in Gizz’s gap year. The Aussies are still pining for the days when Sabbath, Leaf Hound and Blue Cheer were chugging ozone to fuel half-stacks of growlin’ fury, but this time they’re letting some lighter obsessions filter to the front as well. The band’s appreciation of nascent Pink Floyd (before the crack swallowed Syd whole) is prominently on display here along with nods to fellow travelers of the ether Kevin Ayers and Gong.

Occasionally the album reminds me of the great lost psych of Zior in balancing heaviness, heat and meandering space, but there’s also a thread of the Black and White years of BÖC in the mix. While in lesser hands (and even on earlier ORB albums) the sound could devolve into slavish devotion to the force of fuzz but the band have instead created their most nuanced and cohesive album in embracing a wider field of view. The record slashes and breathes, coaxes and cools before summoning all the occult fever on full view in the ‘70s.

No matter how much they lighten the load, though, we’re still all here for at least a few crushing riffs. Thankfully those are still plentiful on The Space Between. From cosmic blues to dirty proto punk, ORB have an arsenal of smoke-choked guitar grit on lock. The hook with ORB is that they’re pulling together the threads of heavy psych into one place, crafting records that have as much reverence for the innovators as they do for latter day refiners of amplifier sickness. The band has never sounded as surefooted as they do right here. This is ORB at their best and its great to see them reach this level.



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CIVIC – “New Vietnam”

New crust out of Geelong, Aus from the always reputable Anti-Fade Records. CIVIC pounds with a dirt black howl that’s culling liberally from The Stooges/MC5 Motor City contingent of proto-punk sounds. The first cut from their upcoming 12″, “New Vietnam” is a breathless grind, choked out with exhaust fumes and powered by ragged denim and blood. Recorded by Billy Gardner (Ausmuteants, The Living Eyes), the song embraces the kind of toughened edge that his own works have often tapped into. The nation has long been a pocket of bristling punk, from The Saints to The Scientists and CIVIC jump in to the lineup with their own brutal blow to the thorax with this one. They’re proving that along with Ausmuteants, The Living Eyes, Wet Blankets and Hierophants, Geelong’s got grit.



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The Living Eyes

One of the most consistent exports from the Aussie underground comes via Anti-Fade Records’ agit-punks The Living Eyes. On their third LP for the imprint they continue to sneer ‘n shred their way through a dozen compact punk nuggets that feel like they’re handed down from the conglomerate schools of The Saints, Richard Hell, Pere Ubu and Toy Love. While keeping things distinctly Aussie (and sharing a searing similarity to labelmates Ausmuteants) they’re kindred spirits to the kind of itchy, agitated, raw-nerve of punk that festered in the American Mid-West some 40-odd years prior.

The difference is that while they seem to carry the outsider jitters in their very DNA, they’ve also found a way to inject an incredible amount of catchiness into the core of their songs, much like South-Hemi heroes Eddy Current Suppression Ring before them. That band’s Mikey Young pops up in the supply chain here on mixing and mastering duties, so you know things are kept brittle and pushing well into the red. The band has always been a fave around here but I have to admit they’ve outdone themselves on this one. They’ve never sounded more vital, electric or combustible as they do on Modern Living.

At the risk of beating the drum too hard in their praise, this is one of the rawest, most delightfully jagged pieces of punk to roll down the belt this year. Its been a good year for unrest and a bad year for everything else, but this one jolts like a car battery to the tongue. It’s chomping tinfoil like breath mints and dusting any contenders that are hoping to paddle through their wake. I know we’re all looking for a salve these days, and it’s nice to sink back into a malted hazed of indie stupor sometimes, but Modern Living is a good reminder to stay agitated and jolt a few others on your way out of the room.




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The Living Eyes – “Horseplay”

These Geelong punks are back in action. Always one of my faves from the Aussie circuit, The Living Eyes’ third record is out in November on Anti-Fade. They launch into another heavy hitter in a catalog stuffed with whip-smart punk. This time the boards are manned by none other than King Gizz captain Stu McKenzie, proving that KG are everywhere at once and always pushing the quality out of the South Hemi. “Horseplay” is a brief burst of bouncy fun, clocking in at just over 2 min, so consider this just something to whet your appetite for the full release.




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ORB

Zak Olsen and his exhaust fumigated band of ’70s crate diggers are back in the arms of ORB once again, and their sophomore album further explores the double stack attack of prime-era Sabbath’s machinations. However, as their first couple of singles attest, the band is trying to push beyond the sound that’s brought them wafting into the arms of stoner-garage freaks everywhere. They embrace fellow ’70s esoteric anomaly Syd Barrett’s effervescent pop, then tumble into a sound that hews a bit too close to labelmates King Gizzard for my taste. It’s hard to dissociate the skittering fretwork and itchy delivery of KG’s brand of psych from their home base and anyone attempting tends to sound a bit watered down.

Perhaps, though, I’m splitting hairs because the band’s bread and butter is clearly so locked into Sabbath’s doom-psych that they can hardly be credited with blazing trails. Yet, when they hit those fuzz squalls right, the album explodes in an enveloping wave of dread and glory that’s taking a cocktail of Blue Cheer, Flower Travelin’ Band and good ol’ Sab straight to the vein. This one is for the late night headphone creepers, the Sunday morning window rattlers, the dirtbags blasting venom at the red light downtown. Naturality lets the band stretch out and explore their sound, reveling in the 6+ minute tracks that showcase the band’s ability to build on a groove and blow it out into a plume of death’s head smoke.

I’ve got a soft spot for ’em, what can I say? Fuzz has been attempting something along these lines and plenty of the orbiters of Planet Segall find themselves in similar waters, but no one is emulating the original quite as nicely as ORB have managed. If you’re a purist, go to the source and hear Ozzy rant about the impending doom of the Vietnam era. If you’re just looking to strap on the same heavy metal thunder with the dry taste of nostalgia on the tongue, you could do far worse than to let ORB rattle the racks for a rotation or two.




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School Damage

Having started strong with the single “Tall Poppies,” Melbourne/Geelong foursome School Damage come even stronger with their first full length for Chapter Music. The album plays well into a type of post-punk that prized catchy swings over a full sound, often feeling ramshackle but giddy in the process. School Damage captures that giddiness bubbling in the pit of the stomach and fashions it into a kind of worming social anxiety come to life through woozy keys and sprinting drums. They find the sweet spot between The Vaselines, Kleenex and, as evidenced by their homage, Aussie footnote The Particles. They capture the austerity, sincerity and don’t give a fuck attitude of those groups and translate it into bubbling pop that’s ’80s in root but frothing with a lyrical sensibility that could only belong to present day. Somehow they make it all coalesce into sweaty charms in a mistmatched print.

There’s a delirious, but fun, edge to their eponymous LP and at its most dizzying it has the effect of riding the tilt-o-whirl on a stomach full of cotton candy. The songs are primarily helmed by Chook Race’s Carolyn Hawkins and as much as she adds to her other home in Chook, she’s clearly found her niche in School Damage. Other vocal duties are headed up by Austmuteants’ Jake Robertson, and I tend to have a hard time divorcing his voice from that group. Though, if Ausmuteants aren’t a heavy fixture in your life then the pair act as nice halves to the quiet cool/geek-rock freakout coin, alternating their turns as the wheel amiably.

Plenty since punk crumbled into even more primitive forms have found success in spare squirming, from Beat Happening and C.O.C.O. to the nervy lo-fi of Bitch Prefect, but there’s something that gives School Damage their own space in the sound. They’re perfectly pinning jangle-pop’s heartfelt bubblegum swing to the anxious bulge of early synth-punk, finding a freedom to explode in both directions at once in any given song. They even find time to slow things down from their Adderall rush to strum out a couple of Vaselines poet-souled ballads. Its a history lesson encapsulated and as a jittery post-punk primer, you couldn’t ask for much more.





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ORB

OK lets get it out of the way quickly, ORB sound a lot like Sabbath. I mean they have the early catalog on full repeat, day and night. They’re feeling the doom of Iomi and the dread of Osbourne in their marrow. But, you know what, screw it, they’re doing it right. If you’re going to go down the Sabbath rabbit hole, you better know how to handle that gas mask groove and you better be able to bring the low end like a boot to the neck. In that respect, this Geelong gaggle are doing doom-psych like it was their birthright. They stretch it out, kick up the maggots below the soil and don’t make this feel like a night at headbanger’s karaoke. They know that the speedier sections of Paranoid were fun, but the times when the band touched on prog, that’s when they were gathering the true clouds of doom. ORB has been behind the wall of sleep and they’ve dug up the bodies buried there.

It doesn’t hurt that Birth comes with a triple (quadruple?) pedigree backing it up. The man behind ORB is Zak Olsen, also of Geelong punks Hierophants and the album was recorded by Aussie heavy Mikey Young (Eddy Current Suppression Ring), putting his stamp on the sound and shattering the very last bong in your cabinet with van rattling authority. He then kicks it over to King Gizz’ label Flightless on the home turf and completing the circle, its found a home at Castle Face in the US. This thing’s been making eyes at your girlfriend for the last twenty minutes and its moral compass is merely waiting for you to get up for a beer before it slinks in like the creep asleep in the back row of your Trig class. Shit, its a wonder this thing doesn’t come loaded in a shag shrouded package with pop-up quadraphonic. Essentially this album is the living embodiment of the second Bassmobile and that’s alright by me.


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